Feature: The Clock Strikes, Prologue: Masked Hero of the Resistance

by Christine Nightstar and Doc Quantum

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San Francisco, California:

A tall figure in a dark, full-body jumpsuit and a full-face mask stood on top of a power line tower next to a bridge looking down on the convoy. The Scarlet Seal’s information was good as always, he thought as he dropped off the tower. Plummeting down, he quickly shrank to a smaller size as he spread out his long coat, which was reinforced by strong, collapsible metal poles, and glided toward the convoy. By the time he reached it, he was six inches tall and gently gliding on the air currents to an easy landing.

“Let them try to say the Clock doesn’t exist after this,” the small figure muttered to himself as he moved under the tarp covering three tanks before growing back to his normal size. The tanks were new prototypes slated for duty southeast of here in the Mojave Desert. He moved to the engine area of the tank to see what had made this prototype tick, humming as he gently lifted the panel with one gloved hand.

“A new radiator design and improved cooling system,” he muttered to himself. “Nice set-up. Too bad it’s not going to make the trip.” Working his hands deftly and quickly, he took pictures of the radiator and cooling array before starting his sabotage. Within minutes, the tank’s motor would cease to function. The masked man shrank again and walked over to the next tank on the flatbed.

Opening the access to the engine, the Clock began to see what made the second prototype tick. “You look like the missile platform, which means that you’re the one with the advanced targeting system. Let’s just get a look at your gunner’s helmet.” He worked quickly, knowing that after this one he still had another ten to sabotage before he made his escape.

The masked identity of the Clock had almost completely taken over his life in the last two months since he had debuted. He wasn’t complaining about it too much, but it was a burden at times. The local California Resistance needed the masked man’s help, since the makeshift operation was held together with duct tape, bailing wire, and a lot of hope, and the Clock was quickly becoming the keystone that held it together.

***

June 20, 1986, 17:00:30:

According to an anonymous source, the Clock has made a daring attack on an Axis armor convoy at the Dumbarton Bridge in San Francisco. Twelve prototype tanks and mobile missile platforms were reportedly destroyed. Axis sources denounced this report as Allied propaganda, and when questioned about the Clock, Axis sources denied any allegations that such a person exists.

American Press Service

***

In Occupied California Headquarters the next morning, the German Army general who had been placed in California as liaison to the Japanese Imperial Army was fuming. “Twelve German tanks — prototypes, no less — en route for our new campaigns on the Nevada and Arizona borders, and do you know what happened to them?” demanded General Ernst Hofstadter.

Standing before the general was a large, blond half-Japanese officer in a captain’s uniform. “There was some sort of security breach, sir,” he replied.

“There was some sort of security breach, all right, Herr Captain,” replied Hofstadter. “It was the Clock. He left his calling card over all twelve of them. None of them reached the lines in working order, let alone complete.”

“And you want my unit to find this saboteur?” the captain replied. “Surely this is not an assignment for Japan’s elite.”

The general was unamused. “He strikes like lightning, disappears into the shadows, shows up in my senior officer’s quarters a hundred miles apart, terrorizes them, injures them, not to mention what he’s done in our supply ports. I thought it was your job to make sure no spies or saboteurs get away with what he’s done. Or were all of Germany’s attempts to sustain Japan’s foothold on America for naught?”

The captain sighed, impatient with having to answer to this man, a mere German Army general. “I will put an officer on it right away, sir.”

“Herr Captain,” said Hofstadter, meeting his eyes with anger, “it was precisely this reason that Hitler himself sent me here. The Third Reich will not allow Japanese incompetence to let any more of California slip from our grasp. Already the U.S. military has retaken Los Angeles with the help of this damned new Quicksilver and the Blue Tracer. (*) I will allow neither them nor the Clock to cause any of Northern California to go the Americans as well. If this Clock is not caught soon, I will see that you will be serving the rest of the war in the deep sea — if you catch my meaning.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See Quicksilver: The Fall of Los Angeles.]

“I will make sure that the Clock is caught, sir,” growled the captain, picking up the file on the masked hero of the resistance.

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